“To me the most enjoyable part of being a horse owner is being able to ride out in the countryside and experience the scenery, the fresh air and the wonderful feeling of being at one with my horse.”
Ann Atkinson took part in our Rideathon in 2019 covering well over 100 miles - this is Ann’s story.
Falling in love with riding
Growing up, Ann Atkinson lived in rural Leicestershire near Twycross Zoo. When Ann was about two years old, her parents agreed to allow two donkeys from the Zoo, named Bill & Ben, to spend their annual Christmas Holidays in the paddock behind their house. This was where her love for riding began.
When Ann turned 10, her family moved house and she had to say goodbye to Bill and Ben. Ann progressed to having weekly riding lessons at a wonderful Equestrian Centre in Ibstock, Leicestershire with Mrs Kew IIH and Nick Creaton BHSI.
At the age of 14, Ann’s dreams came true and her parents bought her first pony. He was an iron grey 14.2hh called Royal Mint (Minty). He was the perfect first pony as he was kind, gentle and bomb proof. Minty and Ann joined The Quorn Hunt branch of the Pony Club and, over the following two years, had some wonderful times at events and hunting with The Quorn.
Sadly, Minty was sold when Ann turned 16 for her to be able to concentrate on A levels, a degree, post graduate qualifications and then starting her professional career. But Ann returned to riding again in her late twenties and hasn’t looked back since.
Now Ann has two horses, both geldings, Big Ginger and Little Windy. Ginger is an 17hh ID x TB hunter type who is 13 years old, and Windy (Windwächter) is a beautiful 4 year old Ebbs bred Haflinger about 15hh.
Ann explains “Ginger likes to have a go at most disciplines. We do a little dressage, jumping, XC and WH all of which we both enjoy, but hacking out in the rural and beautiful Isle of Man countryside has to be our favourite pastime. Windy has only recently been broken so I’m just starting out with him. I imagine he will be primarily a hacking horse”.
Over the years Ann, who now lives on the Isle of Man, has been on Challenge rides with the BHS to Peru and India both of which were extremely well organised and utterly unforgettable. Ann loved riding the local horses with other like-minded riders and experiencing different cultures whilst supporting the BHS.
In September 2019, Ann decided to take on her own challenge and ride the southern part of the old Pennine Bridleway. In doing so Ann thought it would be a good idea to raise money for the BHS’ Ride Out UK Challenge.
When Ann decided to come back over to the UK to ride the old Pennine Bridleway, she covered all of the costs for herself and Ginger so all the money raised went directly to the BHS.
Ann recalls “The duration of the ride was 7 days and during that time Ginger and I covered well over 100 miles. The weather turned out to be extremely challenging with high winds and almost constant rain. Ginger and I carried all of our own supplies for the week and our biggest challenge was keeping ourselves and our supplies dry! We stayed in B&Bs and pubs each night and rode for up to 10 hours each day. For me the highlights were the sense of freedom and space, something many of us are missing at present and the views across the wild rugged moorland”.
What’s your story?
It was thanks to the donkeys that Ann fell in love with riding. “Bill and Ben continued to come to us for many years. When I was a little older, my riding addiction began with my parents leading me around the field on the donkeys.”
If you love to hack and enjoy spending quality time with your horse, then Ride Out UK is for you! All money raised goes towards the BHS Ride Out Fund which supports projects to improve and create bridleways and multi-user routes throughout the UK.